You've most likely heard the ads on the radio. A talent search is coming through town and your child could have a once in a lifetime chance to star in their favorite show, or launch their entertainment career.

But parents beware: too often those searches aren't what they appear.

"It wasn't just an afternoon and oh here your kid can be on Disney. There's a whole lot more to it," says Tracy Roderiguez.

Last year, Roderiguez went with her grand-daughter and daughter to a large casting call in Akron. In a room full of about 500 people, she says the usually extroverted young Gia was intimidated.

"Gia got really nervous and wasn't picked to do it. But they followed up and followed up and followed up to pay for all the acting lessons and singing lessons and modeling lessons and everything that goes with it," says Roderiguez.

Everything -- including a huge price tag.

The talent organizers told her it would be $600 or $700for lessons. When her daughter refused, they tried to get her to take out a loan to finance it.

Some parents do invest in these programs, with the hope their child auditions in front of Disney or gets work as promised. Ilene Case says her daughter was approached by a model scout in the mall.

But to get started, she'd have to pay $875for headshots and $300 to the company to post the photos.

"They said she would get jobs out of it and the jobs make money," says Case, "I spent all this money, and absolutely nothing has come out of it."

The Biz Parentz Foundation lists red flags parents need to be wary of, such as:

  • Being approached in the mall by a so-called talent scout. That title doesn't exist in Hollywood.
  • Any ad that name drops teen stars or kids T.V. show.
  • Any promise of work or access to talent agents.
  • Any organization that requires an upfront fee.
  • Any traveling searches that set up at a convention center.

A legit agency would have an office. All agents should be listed with the Screen Actors Guild or be a member of the Association of Talent Agents. Those organizations have very strict guidelines.